When George Gaal left Europe for Australia in the aftermath of World War II, he was determined to create a new life for himself free from the turmoil of a war-torn continent.
Several decades later, Mr Gaal has been honoured as a Bathurst Living Legend for his contributions as a migrant worker, police officer [and legator], insurance agent and a Rotarian.
"It's an absolute honour, and one that I never thought I'd receive in my lifetime," he said.
To avoid advancing Soviet forces, Mr Gaal fled his native Hungary for Germany with his parents at the age of 14, where he witnessed the United States occupation of the country in the final months of World War II.
After four and a half years in Germany, he and his family immigrated to Australia, arriving in Sydney Harbour in December 1949.
Soon after, Mr Gaal found himself at the Bathurst Migrant Centre, where he was required as a migrant to fulfil a two-year government-mandated work placement contract.
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"At first I was given a job to work at the centre's wood yard to deliver firewood to kitchens at various blocks, but was soon sent to Menindee to work on a pipeline that was to supply water to Broken Hill," he said.
"It took me some time to get used to the physical nature of the work, but I did my duty and learnt some vital life lessons I missed out on due to the war."
Upon becoming a naturalised Australian citizen, Mr Gaal applied to join the NSW Police Force in 1956, a career move that would occupy the next 18 years of his life.
Mr Gaal first operated out of Burwood Police Station in Sydney's inner west, and later moved to various appointments at Paddington, Liverpool, Fairfield and Merrylands.
He served in a variety of roles, including as a member of the vice squad and company squad, and later as a cold case murder investigator and detective, and was especially valued for his ability to speak some foreign languages.
"I never applied to become a detective, Burwood's Detective Sergeant at the time obviously had some faith in me because he'd already filled out my application," he said.
"We were always short on officers in those days, which was a challenge in a frantic metropolitan environment."
After 14 years in Sydney, Mr Gaal returned to Bathurst in 1970 to accept the position of Detective-Sergeant-in-Charge of the Bathurst District, which allowed him, his wife Annemarie and three sons to be closer his mother after his father had passed away.
"We weren't rushing around as much as in Sydney, and the people out here were a lot nicer; even the criminals were more pleasant to deal with," he said.
Mr Gaal resigned from the police in 1974, but has remained active with the force through his involvement with Police Legacy in the Central West, assisting partners who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
"Police officers aren't simply law enforcers with stern voices; like everyone else, they're people with loving families," he said.
"My own experiences as an officer encouraged me to support the well-being of police widows and widowers, as it's never easy to lose a loved one."
Mr Gaal is also an active member of the NSW Retired and Former Police Association and is a recipient of the Police Diligent and Ethical Service Medal.
He has also contributed to the community as a member of two local Rotary Clubs, organised reunions to celebrate Bathurst's rich migrant history, and has been a key component for the promotion of card games and social activities through his involvement with the Bathurst Bridge Club.
"Everything I've ever done has always been about helping others," Mr Gaal said.
"That's just the sort of person I am."